Of boo-boos and blunders

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We've all had cringeworthy moments. Here's one of mine.

There’s an article on dvm360.com that I keep going back to over and over again. And actually, “article” isn’t really the right word, because it’s a series of videos chained together with text. (That’s the beauty of the Web—its offerings don’t have to fit into predetermined categories. But it does leave us with terminology gaps on occasion.)

The videos are about embarrassing moments, blunders, and “oopses” in veterinary clinic exam rooms. And every time I watch it, I laugh until tears come. My favorite line? Dr. Joe Bojrab thundering in his gravelly voice, “You should use every orifice!” We loved this video feature so much we even created a trailer for it on YouTube.

In the spirit of the moment, I’ll share one of my own professional blunders. I’m not sure it rivals those we’ve collected for you on our website, and it doesn’t take place in an exam room, but it was an “oops” nonetheless. It took place during my first real job out of college, when I was a newbie copy editor at The Saratogian, the daily newspaper in Saratoga Springs, N.Y.

Saratoga is a historic resort and horse racing town nestled in the foothills of the Adirondacks. It’s also home for much of the year to Marylou Whitney, a wealthy socialite of the Whitney-Vanderbilt family dynasty. In Saratoga, Whitney is practically royalty, so all of her actions were considered newsworthy by the editors at the paper.

One article we ran was about an upcoming trip Whitney would be making to Antarctica. My job was to edit the article, write a headline for it, and place it on the page. I believe I was a little deadline-frazzled at that point—at least that’s my excuse—because the headline I wrote was “Marylou Whitney heads to frozen North.”

Well. The phone calls and letters started pouring in the next day. “Don’t they teach you people geography anymore? What ignorant fool doesn’t know that Antarctica is south? That’s it: Cancel my subscription!” My boss was very understanding, but I cringed for days. My consolation was that at least my editing mistake didn’t affect lives—I hadn’t amputated the wrong leg in a surgical procedure, for instance. But it was still embarrassing, and it did sit around on people’s coffee tables for a few days.

I’m sure you have your own “moments,” whether in the exam room or in your nonveterinary life. Please share them with us! (You’ll find a link to a message board thread here.) And keep visiting dvm360.com to find other great stuff beyond the print pages of Veterinary Economics.

One note: If you’re like me and get overwhelmed keeping up with a busy, constantly changing site, I have the perfect solution: Sign up for our e-newsletters (dvm360.com/em). In these newsletters we do the sorting for you, delivering the best of our content on different veterinary subjects right to your e-mail inbox.

Usually we get the headlines right. And when we don’t, you all tend to be much more understanding than the subscribers of The Saratogian, at least where their beloved Marylou was concerned. And for that I thank you.

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